The Solomon Islands are an archipelago of approximately 922 small islands. Ninety-five per cent of the population is indigenous Melanesian, with smaller Chinese, European, Micronesian and Polynesian groups also resident. Due to the relative isolation of its communities, there are many diverse languages, culture and traditions. For this reason, local governance systems, including familial ties, are often more important than national political institutions.

In November 2014, general elections saw Independent candidates secure 32 seats in the 50-seat parliament, which led to the formation of a ruling coalition known as the Solomon Islands People's Democratic Coalition (SIPDC) and the election of Manasseh Sogavare as the country's prime minister. Sogavare had served as prime minister from 2000 to 2001 and again from 2006 to 2007. The election was the country's first since an Australian-led peacekeeping operation, the Regional Assistance Mission to Solomon Islands (RAMSI), transitioned to a police-focused mission in 2013 following ethnic violence that gripped the country between 1997 and 2003.

Despite its return to stability, the Solomon Islands is struggling to cope with rapid urban growth, particularly in the capital of Honiara, as a result of large-scale migration from rural areas. Honiara has experienced a doubling of its population in less than 17 years, and the city's annual urban growth rate of 4.7 per cent is one of the highest in the Pacific. This is putting immense pressure on urban service delivery, already in short supply, and leading to local tensions.

Honiara also faces the challenge of informal urban settlements, where up to 35 per cent of Honiara's residents – the majority of whom are indigenous islanders – now reside. While population growth and increasing rural-urban migration are significant factors contributing to the growth of these informal settlements, a lack of developable land for low- and middle-income earners also drives the trend. Besides poor living conditions and limited or no access to basic services such as sanitation, inhabitants are at increased risk of natural disasters. Over 65 per cent of housing in informal settlements lacks durability, meaning that it would likely not withstand strong winds or earthquakes. The settlements, some of which are located on steep slopes, are therefore at high risk of collapsing in the event of a natural disaster, leaving residents in a situation of extreme vulnerability.

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